Federal Flash: The Education Question Betsy DeVos Can’t Answer

Federal Flash: The Education Question Betsy DeVos Can’t Answer

By Rachel Bird Niebling

During a wide-ranging hearing held by the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified on a wide range of Education Department priorities.

Federal Flash covers the controversial exchanges during the hearing, including one question that DeVos struggled to answer.

The House Education and Labor Committee hearing this week examined the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Education. It was the first oversight hearing for Secretary DeVos to testify before the Committee since Democrats regained control of the House. While members asked questions on a variety of topics ranging from student loan debt to affirmative action to the rights of transgender students, many focused on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

In one heated exchange, Representative Jahana Hayes from Connecticut pressed Secretary DeVos about an Education Department memo she obtained citing that the Secretary does have sufficient authority to block states from using ESSA Title IV funds to buy guns for schools. Our viewers may recall that funding for Title IV, or the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, was hotly debated last year when Secretary DeVos said she did not have the power to block states from using Title IV funds to purchase firearms. The memo Representative Hayes presented, however, stated exactly the opposite.

While the exchange between Representative Gregorio Sablan from the Northern Mariana Islands and Secretary DeVos may not have received as much attention, Representative Sablan raised a very important issue regarding the Department’s approval of state ESSA plans that do not consider the performance of historically underserved students…

Read the full article  in Alliance for Excellent Education
SBOE ESSA Task Force to Explore New School Report Card

SBOE ESSA Task Force to Explore New School Report Card

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, December 11, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will hold its next Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Task Force meeting at 6 pm in Room 1117 at 441 Fourth St. NW. Task Force members will convene to explore the new DC school report cards released today. Representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will join the meeting to assist in navigating the site and respond to any questions that arise. 

Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the launch of the first annual DC School Report Card and School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework. The new interactive data-driven website provides students, families, and educators clear and detailed information to better understand how every DC public and public charter school is performing. DC families now have access to easy, clear, and meaningful information about schools in order to make the best decisions for their children. The State Board of Education and its ESSA Task Force worked with OSSE over the last year to bring parents and families together to help create the report cards.

Members of the public may attend and observe all task force meetings, but are not permitted to speak or participate during these sessions. Individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing sboe@dc.gov. The task force meeting will be streamed live via Periscope for those community members who are unable to attend in person. For the latest updates on the task force’s work, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa.

About the SBOE

The DC State Board of Education is an independent agency within the Government of the District of Columbia that advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), the District’s state education agency. The State Board is comprised of nine elected representatives, each representing their respective wards, with one member representing DC at large, and two appointed student representatives. The State Board approves statewide education policies and sets academic standards, while OSSE oversees education within the District and manages federal education funding. More information about the SBOE can be found at sboe.dc.gov.

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Will We Welcome the Children?

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Will We Welcome the Children?

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:33-34

Every third weekend of October, many thousands of people of faith come together all across America for the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebrations launched by the Children’s Defense Fund to unite congregations across religious traditions to respond to the divine mandate to nurture, protect and advocate for all children.

This year, congregations will focus on faithful sustained action to end child poverty, protect children from gun violence and end the heartless separation of children from their families.

Those who talk about our nation’s cruel treatment of immigrant families will likely lift up the mandate in all great faiths to welcome and care for the foreigner and the stranger. But as people of faith across our country call for us to treat immigrants with compassion, the Trump administration is doing just the opposite. Last week the administration published a proposed change to the federal “public charge” rule that has the potential to plunge millions of children and their immigrant families into poverty, hunger and homelessness.

When individuals apply for lawful permanent residency or entry into the United States, immigration officials consider whether that person is, or is likely to become, reliant on the government — in other words, a “public charge.” The current longstanding federal policy is to consider whether an individual will rely on the government for more than half of their income by examining whether he or she receives cash assistance or will need long-term care benefits. But the unprecedented change proposed by the Trump administration would allow immigration officials to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who use public benefits from an expanded list of programs including non-emergency Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and the Medicare Part D low income subsidy. This proposal threatens millions of children and their families.

With this change, the administration threatens to shut down legal paths to citizenship for families that use these safety net programs they depend on — and are legally entitled to — to feed their children, put a roof over their heads and keep them healthy. Even people who haven’t used these programs in the past can be denied a green card or visa if there is a suspected risk they are “likely” to use them in the future.

Nearly one in four children in America has at least one immigrant parent, and nearly 90 percent of those children are citizens. By making legal use of safety net programs a “heavily weighted” factor in determining whether an individual qualifies as a public charge, millions of immigrants will be subject to this expanded definition of public charge, which is likely to cause both immigrants and their children to forego crucial benefits such as food assistance, health coverage and safe housing for fear of the consequences.

This is profoundly unjust, immoral, un-American and downright shameful. America is a nation of immigrants (including the first lady and her parents). The words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty call on us to welcome those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But the cruel immigration policies of the Trump administration force families into the shadows, suffocating them with harsh measures meant to punish them for daring to dream of a better life for their children in America.

Foreigners to our land deserve to be treated as our neighbors. Their children deserve to breathe free. But these cruel Trump policies meant to punish adults and deter immigration end up doing huge harm to children. Is this who we are called to be as a nation? We must stand together and in a unified voice reject this radical change to the public charge rule and demand an end to the cruel immigration policies of this administration which continue to victimize children each and every day.

There are three things you can do today to take a stand against this attack on immigrant families and children. First, go to https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org and submit a comment against the proposed change to the public charge rule. The administration is required by law to review these public comments so now is the time to make your voice heard.

Second, participate in this year’s National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration. There are resources available for leading discussions with children and adults alike about welcoming immigrant families.

Third, look around your own community and take part in local efforts to support immigrant and refugee families who need your help now more than ever. Together we can resist unjust policies and deliver on our nation’s commitment to those who come here seeking a better life.

And those of us who profess Christianity as our faith should remember that baby Jesus was an immigrant in a foreign land. Let us welcome Him in our land today.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

By David Grosso, Special to The Afro

In May, many undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the District of Columbia received their degrees. If they haven’t already, many are also waiting for  something else – a bill for their student loans.

Many District graduates and working professionals are grappling with student loan debt and it has become a barrier for the purchase of a home and automobile. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is aware of this crisis and authored legislation “The Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Act of 2017“, that is designed to deal with exploding student debt.

Grosso is the chairman of the Committee on Education and held a hearing on this bill June 25. “Student loan debt is unavoidable for many people,” the Council member said. “When I was in school, I financed my education through work-study programs and other education partners.”

PRNewswire published a story in its June 26 edition that 10 percent of student loan borrowers in the District owe more than $100,000, the highest in the nation. The article said that 25 percent of the District’s population has an advanced degree (master’s and professional).

Grosso’s legislation would empower an office of the ombudsman to help borrowers and set guidelines for District residents to relieve their student loan debt. The bill has the support of D.C. Council members Trayon White (D-Ward 8), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).

Dr. Eddy Ameen, a District career psychologist, testified at the hearing that financial stress is a factor for students in the higher education realm. “While survey data can tell you how important it is, I receive frequent phone calls and visits from members that are riddled with debt,” he said. “That’s all they can do to succumb to it.”

Ameen said many of his patients wish they had alternatives to student loans for financing education and wish there was an active program that suited them to forgive their debt. He said the majority or nearly half of the people in his field have delayed saving for the future, retirement planning, buying a house, and having children because of student loan debt.

Ameen said he likes Grosso’s bill and encouraged him to, among other things, encourage student loan debt from federal institutions and not private concerns and requested that the bill include District public workers who graduated before 2016. He also said that while $75,000 is a great deal of money in other parts of the country, in the District it is almost an average salary and adjustments must be made to take that into account.

In addition, Ameen wants the public service loan forgiveness program to be more active in the District.

Shana Young, chief of staff for the District’s Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), told Grosso that establishing an ombudsman could be problematic because many District residents would have to be helped by this program and that could be overwhelming. “We appreciate the bill’s sponsors attempting to address student loan debt, which is a significant concern for many District residents,” Young said.

Grosso said the bill “is a work in progress” and offered his opinions. “Perhaps borrowers should be required to take financial literacy classes before they take on these loans,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

The ‘March for Our Lives’: A Timeline of Photos, Videos, and Tweets

The ‘March for Our Lives’: A Timeline of Photos, Videos, and Tweets

Education Week logoAt Saturday’s March for Our Lives, survivors of last month’s Parkland, Fla., school shooting will join an expected half a million people to protest against gun violence and call for more restrictive gun laws. The student-led march will coincide with 800 coordinating events, including at least one in every U.S. state and on six continents.

This collection of photos, videos, and social media posts examines how the march is playing out in Washington and across the globe. It includes on-the-ground views of the action from the students, educators, and others in attendance, and reaction from those following along.

Read full story here. May require a subscription to Education Week.

Will ‘March for Our Lives’ Win the Stricter Gun Laws Students Demand? – Education Week

Will ‘March for Our Lives’ Win the Stricter Gun Laws Students Demand? – Education Week

Education Week logoAt Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students walk daily past a quote painted high on an exterior wall: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

After 17 classmates and staff members died in Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school, some Stoneman Douglas students took that quote to heart. Less than than 24 hours after they were huddled in darkened classroom closets waiting for police to escort them to safety, they planted the seeds of a national movement that takes center stage Saturday at the March for Our Lives, when half a million people are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., to call for more restrictive gun laws.

Student organizers around the country have planned more than 800 coordinating events to coincide with the Washington march, including at least one in every state and on six continents. They estimate the events collectively could draw a million people.

But it remains to be seen if all the enthusiasm, and the coinciding media coverage, will lead to real policy change, especially on the federal level. There’s still a powerful gun lobby, the youth activists have ambitious policy demands that lawmakers have failed to pass many times before.

Read full article here. May require an Education Week Subscription.

Here’s How Some States’ ESSA Plans Address Testing Opt-Outs

Nine states and the District of Columbia had turned in their state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act as of Monday evening, according to an Education Week survey of states. One tricky issue states have to address in those plans is how to deal with schools where less than 95 percent of all students take required state exams.

Under ESSA, states are allowed to have laws on the books affirming parents’ right to opt their children out of these tests. But ESSA also requires that states administer these tests to all students with sanctions kicking in if the participation rate falls below 95 percent and meaningfully differentiate schools based on participation rate in some fashion. Just how states address this issue if the participation rate of all students (or a subgroup of students) at a particular school falls below 95 percent is up to them.

The opt-out movement sprang up in the last several years as part of a broader resistance to testing, and has been particularly strong in states like Colorado, New Jersey, and New York…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.

Every Student Succeeds Act: Six Questions to Ask About State Plans

Break out the balloons and the bubbly drinks, it’s April 3! That’s right, it’s the first official deadline for states to turn in their plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act to either the U.S. Department of Education or to their governors for review. (States that go that second route officially get to turn in their plans, to the department on May 3.)

Late last year, 17 states and the District of Columbia said they were shooting to turn in their plans on April 3, although a couple, including Ohio, have decided to sit tight and keep working. There is a second deadline, on Sept. 18.

The plans will now be read by different teams of peer reviewers at the department. Political appointees, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, are forbidden from monkeying with that process. But the secretary gets to give the plans the final thumbs or down. More on how all that will work here

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.




Where in the World Is Betsy DeVos? Track Her School Visits With Our New Tool

Where in the World Is Betsy DeVos? Track Her School Visits With Our New Tool


Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made big news €”twice €”the first time she visited a school in her new job. Ever since then, educators, advocates, and others have expressed keen interest in keeping close tabs on each time she visits a school to see how things go, and what she says during and after her visit.

Now you can easily keep up with DeVos’ visits to schools: Click here to use our handy interactive map and tracking tool. Each time she stops by a school, you’ll see a slide with the name and location of the school, along with any other pertinent information and coverage we have of her trip. The interactive tool also adds up not just the number of times she’s visited schools, but the types of schools she’s visited: traditional public, private, and charter schools. You can also check out an embedded version of the tracker below:

School visits and the accompanying photo ops for education secretaries are part of the job, of course. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett, for example, the nation’s third education secretary, visited 75 schools from 1985 to 1987. And it was one of his favorite parts of the job

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.

Educators, Advocates React to Trump Administration’s Refugee and Travel Ban

Educators, Advocates React to Trump Administration’s Refugee and Travel Ban

Washington — Teachers, at least two former education secretaries, and others with links to education are speaking out about President Donald Trump’s executive order issued Friday that suspends refugee admissions into the U.S. for 120 days, bars all immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely bans refugees from Syria.

For Rachel Rowan, a high school social studies teacher in Prince George’s County schools in Maryland, the controversy happens to match up with her lessons: This week, Rowan told us, she’ll be discussing the U.S. Constitution’s Article II (the section governing the powers of the presidency) and what exactly executive orders are. And she said she’ll be emphasizing to them that “looking at different perspectives is often the most productive thing they can do with an issue” to learn about it and understand it. (We spoke with Rowan while she was on her way to attend a demonstration near the U.S. Capitol against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to be education secretary.)…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.